WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Wythe County officials are encouraging local dog owners to ensure their pets have been properly vaccinated for rabies; as a recent outbreak of the zoonotic disease has been noted by the county’s animal control department.

Arlan Dunford, supervisor of Wythe County Animal Control, says that health officials have recently processed an above average number of rabid animals – a trend he says places local pets in danger.

“Rabies is a very serious and fatal disease. Pets lacking current vaccinations run the risk of being infected,” stated Dunford.

According to the World Health Organization, the disease can be spread to people through close contact with infected animals, usually saliva, via bites or scratches.

In an effort to ensure public safety, Dunford says his department will be conducting compliance checks throughout the county in the coming days. During these checks, officers will be confirming that all dogs – in the county and towns – are wearing their county issued dog tag. The $5 tags are issued only after dog owners have presented proof to the county’s treasurer that the animals have been vaccinated for rabies.

“In addition to it being the law, having your dogs properly tagged and vaccinated is just good insurance for pet owners. They show that you’re in compliance and that your dogs have been immunized should any question ever arise,” said the veteran officer.

Dog tags for animals that have been spayed or neutered are available at a reduced rate of $4 for one year, $8 for two years and $10 for 3-year tags.

Failure to purchase dog tags is considered a class-3 misdemeanor and subjects the dog owner to additional fines and court costs.

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